WHERE THE AFL MOMENTUM LIES A WEEK OUT FROM THE FINALS
HAWTHORN (momentum ranking: 1st; ladder position 3rd)
The fact that this group has climbed to the top of the mountain twice already papers over recent losses to Port Adelaide and Richmond. Should destroy Carlton and head back to Perth confidently with their round 19 win over the Eagles front of mind.
RICHMOND (momentum ranking: 2nd; ladder position 5th)
Set to be locked out of the top four when Sydney face the injury-ravaged Suns but the Tigers have done little wrong for weeks. Beating the Hawks four weeks ago was pivotal to Richmond’s self-belief.
WEST COAST (momentum ranking: 3rd; ladder position 2nd)
The Eagles had a big wobble on Sunday at Adelaide Oval but won’t face a similar atmosphere in Perth come finals. Should lock up second place against St Kilda on Saturday.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (momentum ranking: 4th; ladder position 6th)
Some wins are worth more than others and Saturday’s triumph over North Melbourne was one of those given the teams could meet in finals. Boast a 5-3 record over finalists and a youthful courage.
ADELAIDE (momentum ranking: 5th; ladder position 7th)
A stirring victory over the red hot Eagles on Sunday was the club’s fourth win in a row. But question marks remain over a side that hasn’t beaten a finalist outside South Australia this season.
FREMANTLE (momentum ranking: 6th; ladder position 1st)
The Dockers are far from flying with only a shaky four-point win over Richmond in round 17 from their past five matches with finalists. But with a qualifying final, anything is possible.
SYDNEY (momentum ranking: 7th; ladder position 4th)
Without a win against one of the top six in three months, there are question marks around John Longmire’s mob. A fit Lance Franklin certainly improves the Swans.
NORTH MELBOURNE (momentum ranking: 8th, ladder position 8th)
It’s a brutal competition when a first loss in eight weeks has North eighth in the momentum stakes. But the Kangaroos squibbed it in a perfect finals warm-up against the Dogs. Could face a fired-up Richmond twice in two weeks unless they upset the Tigers on Friday.